DR. WALLACE: I have a chance to get a cat or a dog as a pet. I like them both, but I don't know which one to choose.
My grandmother suggested that I read a book on both dogs and cats. I did, but I still can't choose. Can you help me? — Pet Lover, Atlantic City, New Jersey
PET LOVER: All pets are valuable members of the family. You can't go wrong selecting either a cat or dog. Dogs are very loyal and more dependent on their owners. They need to be groomed and bathed occasionally and enjoy being taken for a walk. In fact, they really do require regular walks as a healthy form of exercise. Cats are very independent but also loyal creatures in their own way. Basically, all you need to do for them is provide food, shelter and a warm place for them to sleep. They get their exercise themselves, often in rapid bursts, and don't require being taken out for a walk (think about it, when was the last time you saw someone in your neighborhood taking a cat out for a walk on a leash?).
Once you have made your selection, make sure your pet is adopted from your local animal shelter, if possible. There are many wonderful pets there who truly need a loving home!
ALCOHOL IS A VERY ADDICTIVE DRUG
DR. WALLACE: You keep telling your young readers that drinking alcohol is "evil." If it is so evil, why does my mother have an occasional glass of red wine with dinner? Her doctor recommended it a year ago, and Mom followed the doctor's orders. She says that the wine at dinnertime has done wonders for her health. I will read with interest your comments on the subject. — Anonymous, Seattle
ANONYMOUS: I'm aware that some doctors endorse drinking red wine because doing so can reduce a person's risk of developing heart problems. When a doctor recommends this preventative procedure, the patient should follow the doctor's orders — if there is no other concern regarding alcohol consumption for the particular patient in question.
However, the vast majority of people who consume alcohol are not doing it to improve their health. Alcohol is a drug — a very addictive drug. If a person becomes addicted to alcohol, that person is addicted for life. There is no cure.
The problem is that many people are unable to confine their drinking to moderate levels.
A regular drinker may be blissfully unaware that addiction has him or her in its grip. He or she doesn't notice an increased alcohol intake at first and can lose control over a drinking habit, even though it is plainly obvious to the people close to that individual.
Yes, some or even many in society can take an occasional drink or two and function quite well in life. But I would be remiss in not pointing out the other side of what can happen with alcohol, especially to our most vulnerable and inexperienced group of all: this nation's teenagers. Simply think of the phrase "binge drinking" and try not cringe, if you truly consider what that entails. And this activity is, sadly, widely accepted by many young people, who simply feel it is a rite of passage during their high school or college years.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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